Fun Fact: Juilliard alumni have collectively won more than 105 Grammy Awards, 62 Tony Awards, 47 Emmy Awards, 26 Bessie Awards, 24 Academy Awards, 16 Pulitzer Prizes, and 12 National Medals for the Arts.
It turns out that Canadian composers in Juilliard’s undergraduate Composition program are pretty rare; I will be the first Canadian to be enrolled in the program since 2002. What an incredible and humbling honour. In fact, there are currently only 18 Canadians total enrolled in undergraduate programs at Juilliard.
A little bit about me:
I've been taking piano lessons since I was 7, and I've always had a love for music. It's grown into a passion and my dream is to make it a career. At the age of 11 I started taking lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) in Toronto (check it out visit if you’re ever in town). After that, a lot of cool things began to happening for me:
- At the age of 13, I attended the New York Summer Music Festival for composition. (I also attended the next two summers.)
- Every December since then, I've received a piano performance scholarship from the Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects.
- When I was fifteen I performed in a Toronto Symphony Orchestra event at Roy Thomson Hall hosted by Emanuel Ax, at which I was the sole representative for the RCM.
- That April I won third division in my age class in ORMTA's Music Writing Competition (and won second place in the open class this year).
- Last year, I received the Mary Gardiner Award (Toronto), as well as the Patricia Elliot Scholarship for composition.
- Last summer I was fortunate to attend the Young Artist Summer Program at Curtis Summerfest. I composed what I would identify as my best composition to date: Entities (down below). What's more, it was performed by exceptional faculty at the program!
- It also won me the Frost International Composition Competition in my age division last November! My composition was performed at the University of Miami earlier this year.
OK, enough with that already. Let me describe the journey to Juilliard which began with a tour of the school in February 2016.
In the fall of 2016, I applied to nine US universities as well as the University of Toronto. To each of them, I had to submit essays, compositions, recordings, references, and much more.
All of my applications were done by December. Over the next two months I received invitations for interviews. The last invitation I received was from: you guessed it, Juilliard! I was ecstatic but extremely anxious. I knew that out of all the interviews I would have to do, Juilliard's would be the most intense.
My Juilliard interviews were at the end of February this year, and I had prepared heavily. I was there for two days which included a three-hour theory exam and four one-on-one interviews. I was extraordinarily nervous during the interviews, but I left them feeling like I had a good shot at getting in.
However, at the end of March, I was informed that I had been waitlisted. I felt like my dream of attending Juilliard was just out of my grasp. If only I had just done slightly better in my interviews! Waitlist?! As far as I thought, it would be near impossible for someone to get off the waitlist; who would turn down Juilliard?
Well, someone did! About a month later, my phone rang and I was offered a spot at Juilliard. After walking around with a great big smile on my face for 2 days, I realized it was time to get down to business; in case you haven’t heard, it costs a lot to attend Juilliard (and the CDN:US exchange rate is NOT helping).
So, about the money.
My family and I have been scrambling to find funding from every possible source for the School and we’ll continue to do so for the next 4 years. Bottom line, though, is that even with a scholarship offered by Juilliard we are still looking at an annual cost of $70,000 Canadian per year.
We are using savings, RESP, assets and plenty of loans to make this happen but I’m hoping to not be too buried in debt when I graduate. We are also looking at other creative funding options like this GoFundMe! I have created a few reward options that I hope you find interesting and I compel you to donate.
So there’s my case for your support. A little long but hopefully interesting. The money from this campaign will help with a nominal portion of the costs of attending Juilliard, but as we have discovered, every dollar counts. Whether you donate a lot, a little, or even share this link on social media, my family and I deeply appreciate it. Everything, no matter how small, will help. Thank you!
(Just another one of my recent compositions. Check out my YouTube channel too! https://www.youtube.com/nedsels)